Ready or Not #179: Stress and All That Bother

So how do you handle stress?  Not the everyday stress of regular life (chocolate takes care of that), but the out-of-the-ordinary stress?  The type of stress that doesn’t go away at the end of the day, but instead can last days, weeks, months and sometimes years.  Those of you who have remodeled their house while still living in it, will understand; that is what I am going through right now.  Not that I don’t have enough on-going stress in my life – I have the need to create more.

But before I get too whiny, I have to stop and remember that I have a house that is safe to live in (a little jumbled right now, but safe), I do see an end in sight and when it is finished, our living situation will be better.   But many people around the world, due to earthquakes, flooding, volcanoes, or other disasters, don’t have the option of staying in a safe house – jumbled or not.

I heard on the news just this morning that there is extreme flooding in Pakistan and they are expecting more than 3,000 dead and there are literally more than a million people that no longer have homes and they are saying that more than two million no longer have jobs or anyway to earn a living – now that is extreme stress, and it isn’t going to go away anytime soon for those poor souls.

This isn’t an isolated event either.  We are constantly being told about disasters that happen around the world, either natural disasters or political fiascoes, but either situation is going to cause undue, unwanted, stress.

So again, how do you handle stress?  Do you get pouty and whiny (I’m tired of this; I don’t want to do this anymore), or do you throw two-year old tantrums and stomp your feet (This isn’t fair!)?  Or do you just give up and shut down.  I tend to stomp my feet and I get a little short-tempered and cranky, especially if I am hot or tired.  I want things to happen “right now” and as frustrating as it is for me, I have finally figured out (sort of) that I don’t have control over circumstances or people’s reactions and attitudes.  I find that I just have to take a deep breath, stop talking before I say something stupid that I have to take back and then remember to keep everything in perspective.

So, what if you aren’t the only person or family that is under a lot of stress?  What if your entire neighborhood, or even worse, your entire community is undergoing some really life altering circumstances, like those living in Pakistan – how do you handle that?  What if your neighbor has donned the whiny attitude, the neighbor on the other side is throwing a two-year old tantrum and you are just fed up and are being bossy – how do you all get along when you have to work together to solve the problem?

I know that we would all like to think that we would be on our best behavior during a disaster or when we are stressed, but really – we know ourselves better than that, now don’t we?  We have a couple of really good real-life situations going on right now that is turning out to be a really good social experiment to observe human nature undergoing extreme stress.  Look at all of the different reactions to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  This isn’t going to go away very soon at all.  People are already stressed because the lackluster economy and now they have just had their livelihoods artificially taken away for a time – or maybe forever.

New Orleans is still struggling and don’t forget Haiti or Chile.  And to make it even worse for Pakistan (really, can it get worse?) the people in charge of the relief effort are projecting a very large cholera outbreak and the political experts are anticipating that the terrorists in that region of the world are going to take advantage of the situation and try to create even more problems.  Oh, really!

I guess when it comes down to it; our true character comes through during our most trying times and trying times don’t just happen to other people.  I don’t think it is a bad idea to release a little tension with a well controlled temper tantrum now and again, but I think that the way we purposely go about our day to day stress is just practice for how we control ourselves when everything is out of control.

Now I think that I will go stomp my feet a couple of times.

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PARENTHETICAL NOTE from Nina:  I am the silent ‘behind-the-scenes’ tech support for this site.  You never ‘see’ me on this site — unless it is in the technical bloopers that I occasionally spawn.

Dawn is the mover and shaker.  The writer.  The big-picture person.  The one dripping and oozing with ideas and enthusiasm.

I have watched her over the last 15 years as she encounters trial after trial after trial.  Is she bitter?  Discouraged?  Angry?  Despondent?  Does she blubber ‘why me’ all the time (when she has many valid reasons to say that)?  NOT AT ALL.   (Me?  A hangnail sends me whimpering to my bed for months on end.)

Dawn is the most positive, upbeat person that I know.  Her laugh is infectious and her conversation is heartily sprinkled with laughter.

She has intimate knowledge of stress and trials.  The every-day garden variety and the rock-your-world-out-of-orbit kind.  Yet, she doesn’t let them get her down.  I don’t know how she does it.  She is truly a saint.  I want to be like her when I grow up . . .

(And since I’m the tech guru and she is not quite as technologically adept, I can add these kinds of comments at the end of what she writes and she won’t be able to do one single thing about them.  Heh, heh, heh . . . )

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